Previous-generation medical carts were either non-powered or reliant on integrated, non-swappable power systems. Today, a modern, more efficient alternative is available: mobile computer carts equipped with hot-swap battery systems. Learn how they work and why they are essential in any medical facility.
What Does “Hot-Swap” Mean?
The “hot-swapping” term comes from the computing world and refers to any component or peripheral you can install and remove from a device without shutting it down. A synonymous phrase is “hot-plugging.”
A typical example of a hot-swappable device is the USB drive. Unlike an internal hard drive in a computer, you can plug and unplug USB devices without shutting the machine down first.
Consequently, a hot-swap battery is a power source you can install and remove without shutting down any onboard equipment.
How Hot-Swap Battery Systems Work
Hot-swappable battery systems may feature one or multiple batteries alongside a standard A/C power input. The role of these batteries is to provide power to equipment on a typical mobile workstation (e.g., medical-grade computers and peripherals), either directly or by supplying internal batteries.
For example, if your computer carts on wheels are fitted with laptops, a hot-swap battery keeps the laptop batteries charged.
Hot-swap medical cart batteries are effectively a mobile replacement for power outlets. Instead of plugging your cart’s devices into the wall, the system lets you plug them into the mobile cart’s onboard batteries and transport your devices and power source anywhere you need.
You can also plug a hot-swap battery system into the wall, simultaneously providing power to the connected devices and recharging the battery. If the remaining battery life is too low, medical staff can plug the cart into A/C power and swap the old battery for a fresh, fully-charged one.
This process ensures an uninterrupted supply of power and continuous operation of all mounted equipment; no need to shut anything down.
Advantages of Hot-Swappable Battery Systems in Healthcare Environments
In a medical setting, it’s essential to keep equipment functional in case of an emergency. Hot-swappable batteries have several benefits that make them ideal in healthcare environments.
No Advanced Knowledge Required
Handling and providing maintenance to batteries and electronic equipment powering carts is typically reserved for personnel with specific training, such as IT staff.
With a hot-swap battery system, personnel with no advanced technical skills can handle the batteries and keep their battery-powered medical computer carts fully charged. This feature is advantageous for two reasons: it relieves your IT staff from repetitive tasks and keeps your nursing staff focused on patient care, saving precious time.
Swapping Batteries is Quick and Easy
Plugging a cart to A/C power and swapping batteries is a quick and easy operation that any member of your personnel can perform. You can view it as the healthcare facility equivalent of a pit stop. Swapping batteries can be easily integrated into your staff’s workflow without excessive disturbances or harming patient care quality.
Multi-battery Systems Bring Additional Advantages
Although power management with a single hot-swap battery system is already much simpler and more convenient than legacy power systems, you can further increase the lifespan and flexibility of your medical computer carts with a hot-swap battery system.
For example, with the Scott-Clark dual-battery system, you gain access to two URB0012 lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries, with a combined maximum autonomy of 14-18 hours (7-9 hours each).
When one of the two batteries runs low, you can remove and swap it with a fresh one without plugging the cart into A/C power. Removing one battery causes the system to switch to the other automatically. Although dual-battery setups are heavier than single-battery systems, this feature can help your staff save even more time.
Integrates With Other Time-Saving Technologies
Hot-swap battery systems, such as Scott-Clark’s Flexible Mobile Cart Power Technology (FMCPT) suite, are designed to work with charge indicators and provide precise information regarding the amount of power remaining inside each battery.
For instance, the URB0012 battery has an integrated array of 5 LED indicators indicating the remaining charge level. The first LED is yellow, whereas the other four are green.
If a battery has 20% or less power, only the yellow light will turn on, letting staff know it is time to recharge. However, this simple LED indicator device may not be precise enough for time-pressed personnel in situations where minutes count.
SOCI II indicator systems are the best way to address these potential problems. The large full-color liquid crystal display (LCD) shows the precise amount of remaining power on all connected batteries using hours and minutes instead of percentage values.
SOCI II displays do not simply convert percentages to time. Instead, they determine the remaining charge time by accounting for discharge rates, allowing them to estimate the remaining power more precisely than standard indicators.
Keep Your Mobile Computer Workstations Powered With Scott-Clark
Whether you need a new fleet of high-quality computer carts or need to retrofit your existing equipment, Scott-Clark Medical can help. Our FMCPT power management systems are available with single or dual hot-swappable batteries, providing any computer cart with up to 18 hours of continuous power and easy, convenient battery swapping capabilities.
Contact us at (512) 756-7300 for more information or to request a quote.